Over the years, my family has enjoyed vacationing in many different beaches throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. North Carolina Beaches hold a special place in our hearts. Though I belong to a family of Northerners, my parents packed us and our belonging up in 1992, and moved us to NC. We've embraced so many things about NC ways of life ever since, and one of those is trading the Jersey Shore for the beautiful NC Beaches. We try to make it to the beach at the very least once a year- though we usually make 2-3 beach trips if we can.
This year, my parents rented a beach house on Topsail Island, NC. This is our third TI beach trip, and has been by far one of my favorite trips. In the past, we've rented houses on Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Oak Island, and have vacationed at several other beaches, as well. I love all of these beautiful beaches, but there's something about Topsail Island that feels like home. Maybe it's the fond memories that I have of our first family trip to TI over fifteen years ago, or the last time we visited- making wonderful family memories.
About Topsail Island
Topsail Island is a 26-mile (41.8 km) long barrier island off the coast of North Carolina, USA just south of Camp Lejeune, the Bogue Banks, and the Outer Banks. It contains the communities of North Topsail Beach, Surf City and Topsail Beach. Along with its thick maritime forests, Topsail Island is also a sanctuary for sea turtles and known for its beautiful beaches. The island lies in Onslow County in the north, and in Pender County in the south. There are only two ways on and off the island: the first is a high rise bridge on the North End and the second is a swing bridge into Surf City.
It's sort of fun to drive into Surf City from the swing bridge. That way, you'll be able to see all of the shops, restaurants, and great places for family entertainment along the way. There are tons of beautiful beach homes in Topsail Island Beach. We enjoy staying in North Topsail, which is further away from the traffic of Surf City. There are lots of public beach access areas on the north side of the island, as well as easy access to grocery stores, shops, and places to eat.
View from our beach house (rental), looking out to the Sound (Intracoastal Waterway).
Instead of an oceanfront property this year, we opted for a second row home with an ocean view. The house had the sound for its backyard, and a very long private dock out to the waterway. Along the waterway, you can see boats going by any time of the day. You also have a private viewership of fish and other coastal wildlife, like herons and cranes.
Those sandy mountains behind us are the beach dunes- so beautiful!
One of the best things about Topsail Island beaches is that the dunes are still there, and they're pretty big. I love the dunes at the beach, and it always makes me sad to see that so many of the dunes have been destroyed from storms or beach erosion further south. The dunes here are quite large, and you may feel like you're climbing a mountain to get over them. Like many NC/SC beaches, Topsail requires you to stay off the dunes.
You will probably notice the black sand mixed in with the white sand on North Topsail Beach. The sand is incredibly soft, and our kids actually loved playing in it. I have a few pictures of Baby S covered from head to toe in the black sand. If I figure out how to get it to wash out of her bathing suit, I'll let you know.
Splashing the day away on North Topsail Beach.
North Topsail Beach is a gorgeous beach. When the tide is high, early in the morning, there isn't a whole lot of beach to play on. My best advice is to head out early, claim a spot, and set up camp for the day. Once the tide starts to go back out in the afternoon, you can move your gear up a bit closer to the water. We found that it's great to go out on the beach with the kids around 5 pm, because of the many tide pools on the beach. They are shallow, warm, and perfect for splashing in or trying to catch a few minnows.
The Topsail Island beaches are clean and aren't too shelly. Nothing is worse than having to spend your day dodging broken shells on the beach. Topsail Island was covered in beautiful, smooth sea glass when we were there. If you're creative or crafty, you could make some lovely sea glass jewelry with it.
Protecting Baby S from the wind during her nap on the beach.
Afternoon storms are probably going to occur during the summer months. I like to have a quick pack up plan to get us and our gear safely back to the beach house in the event that a storm does happen to pop up. I always bring my phone out on the beach and check my weather apps to see if any storms might be headed our way.
Family dinner at Ocean's Edge Restaurant, North Topsail Beach
As much as we love to spend time out on the beach, we also enjoy checking out local shops and restaurants. We remembered some great places to visit from our last TI trip, and discovered some new ones, too!
Here are a few of the spots we love in Surf City, Sneed's Ferry, Topsail, North Topsail...
The Corner Sweet Bakeshop & Treats, Surf City
(Cupcakes, sweet treats, cafe)
HWY 55, Surf City
(Burgers, Shakes, Fries- 50's Soda Shop Style Joint)
Ocean's Edge Restaurant & Event Center, North Topsail
(Casual & Upscale Dining)
Minervinis NY Bagel Co, Sneed's Ferry
(NY Style Bagels & Delicatessen)
Surf City Ocean Pier, Surf City
(The Grill & Hershey's Ice Cream)
BumbleBee Market, Surf City
(Gifts, Jewelry, Clothing)
Salty C Girls Island Boutique, Surf City
Topsail Island Trading Co., Surf City
Shipwreck Point Golf, Surf City
Patio Playground, Topsail
(Putt Putt, Concessions, Arcade)
If you ever get the chance to visit the coast of NC, do your best to make a point to stop in at Topsail Island. You'll be so glad you did! We can't wait for our next family trip to Topsail.